Robert Heathcote and Buffering

Rob Heathcote with Buffering (Image: Slickpix)

Rob Heathcote has worn plenty of different hats in his lifetime.

Photo engraver. European tour guide. Ski lodge manager. Racing manager.

But isn’t he glad he decided to listen to his wife Vicky’s advice when she said he should dabble in horse training.

The Queensland horseman didn’t get into the industry until he was in his 30s, but he has been rewarded handsomely over the time since, training the likes of Group 1 stars Buffering, Woorim, Solzhenitsyn and now The Everest hopeful Rothfire.

“I was a young fella from Tassie that got the travel bug, very early days,” Heathcote told That’s Racing.

“I went to school in Germany, learnt some German. Got a job with Contiki and that was way back in the early 80s.

“Normally young Aussies do that for one or two years, but I hung around for about 14 years as a European tour manager.

“My brother Wayne was passionate about horses. He had horses all his life.

“When I came back to Brisbane to settle down and have a family, I basically became my brother’s racing manager. On the advice of my wife, she said ‘Why don’t you have a go at this training caper’?”

Buffering, a $22,000 buy, took Heathcote and his owners across the world, winning seven G1s along the way.

And while there’s still a long way to go for Rothfire to reach that level, the $10,000 purchase is just another one of Heathcote’s savvy buys.

It’s something he has a knack for.

“When you buy horses like Buffering for 22 grand and they win $7m and horses like Rothfire for $10,000 and he could win $7m. It’s a bloody good dream,” he said.

“I’ve never been a big spender at the sales, $100,000 pulls me up.

“I don’t have a lot of real high-flying owners, I never have. I’ve always shopped at the cheaper end of the market and I’ve been lucky, I’ve had a lot of success at it.

“And it looks like I’ve been hit by lightning twice with another superstar who cost bugger all.”

Rothfire stamped himself as a star with his win in the G1 JJ Atkins during the Queensland Winter Carnival.

But he announced himself as a genuine Everest contender with his demolition of a highly talented field in the G2 Run To The Rose last Saturday.

He’s now $6 second favourite for The Everst with Sportsbet.

Heathcote told the story of how the horse came to be part of his stable.

“Fair to say Rothfire never had a scintillating pedigree page,” he said.

“So much so that a couple of sales companies knocked him back and said he wasn’t bred well enough to go through the sale.

“The Gleeson family of Gleeson Thoroughbred Connections, I trained for them already, Simon Gleeson knows I have (a like) for the Rothesay breed, he is an unfashionable sire here in Queensland … Simon called me and said he had a cheapie and would I take him off his hands?

“I said, ‘Sure, how much’ and he said, ’10 grand’ and I said, ‘Lovely, he will sit well on my website, a few new owners can come in without a huge outlay’.

“It might have been the best decision they’ve made in their life, that’s for sure.”

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